As a visual medium and technique, projection mapping usually involves blasting moving images that have been built and rendered digitally, but one London-based studio that specializes in mapping visuals onto buildings and objects has decided to do something a little different for their 10th anniversary: create all visuals in-camera in a 10 hour marathon session using around 18 analogue effects which included embroidery, fire, a goldfish swimming in a tank, latex, a flickering candle, 3D printed models, wooden models, illustration, origami, and water.
"We started by looking at our current output as a studio and the techniques we employ in our projection-mapping pieces, and then thinking of how we could turn it all on its head by recreating and enhancing these processes through the physical form." James Murray, Projection Artworks' director on the project and the studio’s marketing director, tells The Creators Project. "Our ideas were driven by the fundamental principles of projection mapping—shadow play, surface manipulation, extrusions and occlusions. Most crucially, our ideas were governed by our ten hour shoot window."
The project involved collaboration with local artists and craftspeople, providing a fresh perspective on the efforts of Projection Artworks, and the ability for the locals to interpret the digital processes that the studio typically uses. One effect, for instance, involved creating a moveable multi-cubed wooden model using fishing wire, inspired in its design by the mograph plugin from Cinema 4D.
The different effects were first shot inside a perspex box, and then formatted in post to make them compatible for the show, which took place at the Honourable Artillery Company (the HAC) in East London, as the centrepiece for NABS’ (National Advertising Benevolent Society) Stranger Than Summer fundraising ball.
The visuals were projected using two 20,000-lumen projectors and the d3 media server, the $90,000 industry standard which was originally developed for providing visuals at U2 concerts. Murray notes that it was a chance for them to subvert the medium with old school physical effects while nodding to projection mapping's heritage in shows like Pink Floyd’s liquid light spectacles from the 1960s.
"There’s something really authentic with crafted effects, they have a different aura," notes Murray. "We are used to seeing and delivering lots of CGI projects but we were really surprised by the results of these techniques—their originality and photorealism couldn’t be recreated with animation packages. Also, the realism achieved in the fire and water effects, for instance, would have taken months to simulate, and still wouldn’t look anywhere near as good."
The group plan to take the idea further still, exploiring areas like real-time content capture and interactivity, and using more involved analog techniques like timelapse, magnetic fields, non-Newtonian fluids, and sound vibrations.
You can learn more about the project in the video below:
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